Thon quit school at age sixteen to work as a bricklayer's assistant, and with his first earnings bought paint and brushes. He was about twenty when a friend suggested he enroll at the Art Students League, but after a month of drawing from plaster casts, he left the League and went into business as a designer and builder of window displays. In 1933 Thou set sail on a sixty-foot schooner looking for buried treasure. Although the project was abandoned after seven months, Thon created a wealth of sketches during his sea venture that he used in painting on his return. After a stint in the navy during World War II Thon settled in Port Clyde, a small fishing village on the Maine coast. There he recreates on canvas and paper his emotional responses to the rocky coastline, turbulent sea, and wooded forests. Thon spent 1947 at the American Academy of Rome and returned with a Prix de Rome in 1950. In 1956 he was artist-in-residence at the American Academy.
Virginia M. Mecklenburg Modern American Realism: The Sara Roby Foundation Collection (Washington, D.C.: Smithsonian Institution Press for the National Museum of American Art, 1987)